Researchers and policymakers working on prosperity, happiness and wellbeing in the UK have recently reworked GDP-centred notions of progress and identified community and belonging as major determinants of a good life. The dominant notion of community in most writing on this topic draws on Putnam’s work on social capital as measured by trust and/or civic engagement. This approach, however, captures only the social aspect of community, without addressing the symbolic dimension of political discourses and their national and local effects. Using data from Newham, London, this article argues that a narrow focus on social capital obfuscates the complexity of community dynamics, leading to misconceptions about the causes of social fragmentation. In the case of Newham, we show that while survey data on social capital suggests that diversity is detrimental to community life, a more nuanced analysis reveals that it is in fact an important part of community cohesion.
The independent review on The Economics of Biodiversity led by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta has now been delivered to the government. The report underlines our failure to grasp that our economies are “embedded within Nature, and not external to it.” We rely on nature to “provide us with food, water and shelter; regulate our climate and disease; maintain nutrient cycles and oxygen production; and provide us with spiritual fulfilment and opportunities for recreation and recuperation which can enhance our health and well-being.”Read More
On 4 August 2020, a massive explosion at Beirut’s port killed at least 200 people and caused up to $15bn in damage to buildings and infrastructure – including the destruction of the public electricity company building. It was the latest blow for a country battling a 30-year energy crisis and facing chronic shortages as a result of an ageing infrastructure based around fossil fuels.Read More
In 1945, the UK’s welfare state was set up to address the want, need and misery caused by unemployment. Seventy-five years later, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, we had almost full employment in the UK – and yet we still have massive levels of poverty and precarity experienced by people in work.Read More